Alton Towers, a theme park located between Leek and Uttoxeter in Staffordshire, UK, is preparing to launch its new white-knuckle ride, perversely called The Smiler, for the coming season.
Built at a cost of £18 million, the new roller coaster-type ride will be expected to bring something new to attract thrill seekers, and with a record-breaking 14 loops, it is unlikely to disappoint. Add to that The Smiler’s drops of 98 feet that it navigates at speeds of up to 52 miles per hour, for a nerve testing two-minute and forty-five second duration, and it should provide enough motion to disorientate even the most hardened theme park fan.
But it is not only the ride’s stomach-churning manoeuvres that are likely to leave its passengers shaken but satisfied. Part of its massive budget was spent on fees to psychologists and scientists with the intention of creating a thrill ride that instils psychological as well as physical fear. One of The Smiler’s creators, Katherine Duckworth, was quoted in the Daily Mail, saying, ‘This ride will put not just your body but also your mind through its paces. There are five different mind effects, which are all designed to mess with your head. You shoot towards giant syringes, spinning hypnotic wheels, and flashing lights, among other things.’
John Wardley, a ride consultant at Alton Towers, added, ‘The Smiler is set to be one of the most thrilling rides in the world. To heighten the feeling of excitement we needed a ride with a variety of mental cues. The Smiler will be different from other traditional roller coasters, in that it will combine intense physical effects along with unique mental elements.’
The Smiler opens at Alton Towers later this month.